Steinbach Pistons’ forward Julien Koga been awarded the MJHL’s RBC Junior A Scholarship in the amount of $1,000.
“I’m obviously honoured to win this award,” said Koga, who is a second-year science at the University of Manitoba. “My goal is to graduate with a degree in either biology or chemistry and then continue my post-graduate studies in medicine. This scholarship is very much appreciated.”
Koga, who turns 20 next month, hails from Winnipeg and thoroughly enjoyed his three seasons with the Pistons and living in Steinbach where he became an active member of the community. Unfortunately, his hockey career was cut short this season due to concussion issues.
“This season I suffered my sixth concussion, which forced me to make a major decision in my life,” said Koga. “With the guidance of my coach (Paul Dyck) and my doctor I made the difficult decision to retire.”
“I was leaving a part of my life behind, a part that I would never be able to get back. Without the support of my teammates, coaches, billets and parents, I would not have been able to cope with this experience.”
Koga, who admits to having a strong interest in pediatrics and orthopedics, also mentored a five-year-old boy who lives in Steinbach.
“The boy has had cancer since the age of one and is fighting the battle of his life,” said Koga. “I have tried to be a role model for him, trying to help him have a normal childhood and show him all he has to look forward to.”
Koga also spends his summers working at the Society of Manitobans with Disabilities, conducting summer camps for children with disabilities. Last year he coached two Winnipeg spring hockey teams for players aged eight to 10.
“Coming out of junior hockey, I can proudly say that this sport and the Pistons have helped shape my character in a way that nothing else could have,” he said. “My time as a junior hockey player has been an experience I will always positively reflect on. I’ve made life-long friends and I know my hockey experience will benefit me as I move to the next stage of my life.”
Koga is now one of 10 Junior A nominees eligible for a $5,000 RBC Junior A Scholarship which will be awarded at the RBC Cup next month at Cobourg, Ont.